Command-line, stack-based calculator with postfix notation
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README.md

Clac

A command line, stack-based calculator with postfix notation that displays the stack contents at all times. As you type, the stack changes are reflected immediately.

clac in action

In a stack-based postfix calculator, entering a number pushes it on a stack, and arithmetic operations pop their arguments from the stack and push the result. As all the operations take a fix number of arguments, there's no room for ambiguity: parenthesis and operator precedence are not needed. Postfix notation is also known as reverse Polish notation, or RPN.

Why?

I like Forth and other stack based, concatenative languages, and I've used the dc calculator a lot. Once I got used to dc, other calculators seemed to be less powerful. While it has been extremely useful for me, I've always found the UI a bit lacking. That's why I decided to try this idea of an always-visible stack with realtime updates.

Installation

Download the latest release or check the available packages. You can also compile the source code in the master branch.

Install clac into /usr/local/bin with the following command:

$ make install

You can use make PREFIX=/some/other/directory install if you wish to use a different destination. If you want to remove clac from your system, use make uninstall.

Commands

When a command requires an argument, it pops a value from the stack. If the stack is empty, a zero is provided instead. In the descriptions below, the top of the stack (and thus the first value popped) is represented by the letter a, while the second value popped is represented by the letter b. For example, if the stack is composed of the number 1, 2 and 3 (with 3 at the top of the stack), when we describe the sum then a will be 3 and b will be 2. It is important to note that substraction and division invert the order of the arguments before peforming the operation: with 1, 2 and 3 in the stack, when you type - it will pop the values 3 and 2 and push the result of 2 - 3. This is in the tradition of other postfix calculators and programming languages.

Here's a description of the available commands:

Arithmetic operations

+ Pop two values a and b and push the result of a + b.

- Pop two values a and b and push the result of b - a.

* Pop two values a and b and push the result of a * b.

/ Pop two values a and b and push the result of b / a.

Modulo operation

% Pop two values a and b and push the remainder of the Euclidean division of b by a.

Exponentiation

^ Pop two values a and b and push the result of b ^ a.

Logarithm

ln Pop the value a and push its natural logarithm.

log Pop the value a and push its logarithm to base 10.

Factorial

! Pop the value a and push its factorial.

Trigonometry

sin Pop the value a and push its sine.

cos Pop the value a and push its cosine.

tan Pop the value a and push its tangent.

Summation

sum Pop all the values in the stack and push their sum.

add Pop the value a and remove that many items from the stack. Push their sum.

Rounding

ceil Pop the value a and push smallest integral value greater than or equal to a.

floor Pop the value a and push largest integral value less than or equal to a.

round Pop the value a and push integral value nearest to a.

Absolute value

abs Pop the value a and push the non-negative value of a.

Stack manipulation

swap Pop two values a and b and push the values a, b.

dup Pop the value a and push the values a, a.

roll Pop two values a and b and rotate b elements in the stack a times.

drop Remove the top of the stack.

clear Remove all the elements in the stack.

count Push the the number of items in the stack.

_ Push on the stack the result of the last operation.

Stashing

stash Pop the value a and move that many items to the stash.

fetch Pop the value a and move that many items from the stash.

. Stash the top of the stack.

, Fetch one stashed item.

: Stash all the items in the stack.

; Fetch all stashed items.

History

Use <C-p>/<C-n> or the <Up>/<Down> arrow keys to navigate the history.

User defined operations

It is possible to define operations (or words, as they are usually called in stack based programming languages) by editing the words configuration file. It is not created by default, but clac will use some environment variables in order to search for word definitions.

$CLAC_WORDS If set, it should point to a file containing word definitions.

$XDG_CONFIG_HOME If set, clac will search for $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/clac/words.

$HOME If set, clac will search for $HOME/.config/clac/words.

How to define words

Words are defined as aliases, with one alias on each line. Empty lines are ignored. Here are some examples:

pi 3.141592
tau "pi 2 *"
sqrt "0.5 ^"

Note that an alias has two parts: a word to be defined and its meaning. That's why the tau and sqrt definitions are enclosed in double quotes. If the double quotes are removed, clac will complain that it can't parse the command. For example, if we remove the double quotes from sqrt and start clac, we will get this error message:

Incorrect definition: sqrt 0.5 ^
(~/.config/clac/words:3)

User defined words can be used as if they were built-in commands:

$ clac "42 dup * pi *"
5541.76

How to list defined words

If you type words and hit enter, clac will list the defined words.

How to reload defined words

If you type reload and hit enter, clac will reload the words file.

Non-interactive mode

While the most interesting aspect of clac is the ability to visualize the stack as it is updated with each key press, at some point you may want use clac just to get a quick result or call it from a script. For that reason, clac can be used in non-interactive mode by invoking it with an argument.

Examples

Here are some examples of non-interactive invocations:

$ clac "3 4 +"
7

$ clac "2 3 4 +"
7
2

When clac finishes evaluating the expression "2 3 4 +", there are two elements in the stack: the number 7 at the top of the stack and the number 2 at the bottom of the stack. The elements are printed in order, one per line, starting from the top of the stack.

This other example uses the stashing features. Let's say we want to push two numbers and get the result of their multiplication plus the square of the second number.

$ clac "4 3 dup dup * . * , +"
21

Another example that uses the stash would be to get the average of all the elements in the stack:

$ clac "1 2 3 4 count . sum , /"
2.5

In fact, if you find yourself calculating averages very often, you can define the word avg as "count . sum , /".

Contributing

If you find a bug, please create an issue detailing the ways to reproduce it. If you have a suggestion, create an issue detailing the use case.